IEF applauds recommendations from Task Force on Financial Literacy
but cautions that significant challenges are ahead

TORONTO, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - In response to the recommendations from the Task Force on Financial Literacy today, Investor Education Fund (IEF) supports the report as a good first step in establishing a concrete plan to improve financial literacy in this country. However, IEF warns there is hard work ahead in meeting the complex challenge of changing people's behavior with their money.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent marketing financial products to Canadians and very little in educating them about making good choices," says IEF president Tom Hamza. "It will be a difficult task to educate consumers and to help them get the skills that are needed to make better financial decisions and withstand the temptations to which they're exposed."

The Task Force calls for a central online location for financial literacy information where Canadians, including educators and employers, can get information about money management and investing.

"We support the call for a central online location for financial literacy information," adds Hamza. "However, IEF research clearly demonstrates there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue. How and where you reach a 25-year old about a financial issue is very different from how you communicate with a 40- or 60-year old about the same issue. Addressing these nuances will be key to making this initiative successful."

A financial literacy advisory council will also be established, representing the public and private sectors, individuals and families, volunteer groups, labour and the financial services industry.

"We need a structure in place that puts consumer interests before industry interests," adds Hamza. "If financial institutions are going to sit at the financial literacy table, they need to wear a different hat. Ultimately, they answer to their shareholders so it's in their DNA to focus on selling products to consumers rather than educating them. We need to help consumers make better decisions by providing context that isn't always provided by the financial services industry."

The Task Force on Financial Literacy report also recognizes the importance of inviting educators to the table in order to improve financial literacy in this country.

"Our work with educators across Canada helps us understand how challenging and critical it is to bring financial literacy to the classroom," continues Hamza. "The school system is very fragmented. We're one of the largest trainers of teachers and students on financial topics in Canada. Every year we reach 700 teachers and 120,000 students—but it's still just a drop in the bucket given the sheer size and complexity of the system."

Financial literacy is an important life skill. Canadians are faced with financial decisions throughout their lives, many of which involve significant risks and rewards. Improving financial literacy helps consumers act knowledgeably and with confidence in managing their personal financial affairs.

"The typical Canadian has too much debt, is ill-prepared for retirement and puts too much blind trust in financial institutions to help them choose the right financial products," Hamza concludes. "Changing a society where instant gratification is the norm will take imagination, determination, cooperation and a well-funded marketing effort."

About Investor Education Fund
The Investor Education Fund offers unbiased financial information to the general public via  www.GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca and to students through its Taking Stock in Your Future teacher program, Funny Money assembly program and online financial tools. The not-for-profit organization was established by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), and is funded through OSC enforcement settlements.

SOURCE Investor Education Fund

For further information:

Kathryn Boothby, 905.330.0943 or kathryn@polarisprinc.com

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